Tip of the Month – The Press Conference

Press Conference: Organizing and Executing a Successful Media Event

From the Pro-Life Media Handbook by Judie Brown


First of all, and obviously, a press conference is only called when you have a major announcement or statement to make.  Second, a press release announcing the intention to hold a press conference should be sent in advance allowing the press ample time to assign someone to the event. 


Try to follow this checklist to prepare for and hold a press conference:


1.                   Make a list of all of those invited to attend (names, addresses, telephone numbers and e-mail addresses).


2.                   Send invitations in advance and follow up with a telephone call within 24 hours of the scheduled time for the conference.


3.                   Invitations should state


a.       the name of the spokesperson(s), if known in advance (should be limited to a few),

b.       the location (pick one that is well known to the press),

c.       time (weekdays and mornings are best for maximum coverage – e.g., Wednesday at 9:30 a.m.).


4.                   In the case of UPI and AP offices in your area, make certain that the press conference is placed in their “day book.” A telephone call to the bureau is sufficient.


5.                   Press kits should be prepared in advance and handed out to all members of the press in attendance. Press kits should be mailed to all of those who do not attend. A press kit should contain


a.       the prepared statement of your group,

b.       a photo of the spokesperson,

c.       a brief explanation or history of your organization.


6.                   Begin the press conference on time; introduce those who are with you at the table or the podium.


7.                   Keep statements brief and to the point; each person should limit him or herself to no more than a five-minute statement. The entire statement time should never exceed 15 minutes, leaving a comfortable amount of time for the press to ask questions.


An excellent public relations gesture is to provide the press with either coffee and doughnuts or small luncheon snacks, depending on the time of your conference. This is an added plus for you and shows your appreciation of their hectic schedules.


Note: Do not make a pro-life speech to the press; they are not interested. They want to hear the item you feel is newsworthy and they will then follow up with questions, based upon your brief statement and the press kit you have given them.


Remember: Do not make statements to the press which cannot be documented!


Follow up by watching the press to see what coverage you are given and always respond favorably to those who cover your event fairly. A thank-you letter or a personal thank-you is unbelievably effective – especially for future coverage.

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